Breakthrough Winners 2000


(Ottawa)-Pushing the limits and encouraging girls and women to “get in the game” has earned national recognition for three outstanding individuals and one trailblazing organization, it was announced today in Ottawa. The 2001 Breakthrough Awards, sponsored by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), shed light on achievements that often take place out of the public eye, according to CAAWS Executive Director, Sue Hylland.

“These awards recognize the commitment of individuals and organizations to getting girls and women not only onto the fields, courts and ice rinks, but also into the boardrooms and front offices of every sport,” said Hylland. “Once again, it is our privilege to recognize exceptional people and true leaders who set the standard for the promotion of women and girls in sport and physical activity.”

Dr. Sandra Kirby received the award in the Individual category for her long-time support of the Manitoba Rowing Association (MRA). An Olympic athlete in the mid-70s, Dr. Kirby was a founding member of CAAWS in 1981. Despite her growing commitment to sport at the national level-including membership on the board of the Canadian Marathon Canoe Racing Association-she never forgot her roots as she continued to coach at local rowing clubs across the country. An accomplished speaker on the subject of women in sport as well as an author of six books and 14 peer-reviewed articles, Dr. Kirby is an exemplary role model, a respected advocate for women in sport and a deserving recipient of this award.


According to an article in the Toronto Star, Nancy Lee, the executive director of CBC Sports, “is in a league of her own.” The Globe and Mail and The Hockey News both consider her the most influential female in sport in Canada. The award selection committee agreed, presenting Ms. Lee with a 2001 Breakthrough Award in the Media category. Always a pioneer, she has even talked about adding a women to the Hockey Night in Canada duo of Ron McLean and Don Cherry. “The sad thing,” says Ms. Lee, “is that (women and sport) is still a story.” She says that her role is to change that.



The winner in the Herstorical category, one designed to recognize the long-term activities and achievements that have directly affected, improved or influenced girls and women in sport, is Doreen Ryan. Her record shows someone who has led by example over several decades as an athlete, coach, teacher and volunteer. A member of the Canadian Olympic speed skating teams in 1960 and 1964, Ms. Ryan was an accomplished athlete in many sports including track and field. She was the national team manager for the Canadian national track-and-field team at the 1974 Commonwealth Games, the 1976 and 1980 Olympics and the 1979 Pan American Games. This, combined with her volunteer positions with, among others, the Commonwealth Games Association, make her a truly deserving recipient of the 2001 Breakthrough Award.


The Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (OPHEA) has been given the 2001 Breakthrough Award in the Organization category for its role in the development of the Sport Mentoring Project. In the Project’s pilot phase, two high schools were identified and adopted by two varsity sport teams-the volleyball team from the University of Toronto and the wrestling team from Lakehead University. The athletes acted as role models and mentors for 20 to 30 girls between the ages of 11 and 14. The evaluation was clear: both the young girls and the female university athletes were winners. Through this alternative and innovative approach, the award selection committee recognized OPHEA’s efforts in encouraging and enabling more girls and women to lead and coach in sport and physical activity.

The Breakthrough Awards were established by CAAWS in 1986 to recognize exceptional accomplishments that break through traditional barriers and pave the way for girls and women to participate in sports at every level. The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) is a national non-profit organization founded in 1981.

CAAWS works in partnership with Sport Canada and this country’s sport and active-living communities to achieve gender equity in sports in Canada.